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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree July 2018 > She burned too bright for this world’

She burned too bright for this world’

Ruth A Symes reminds us how there is much to interest family historians in Emily Brontë’s life and work as we mark 200 years since her birth


Emily Brontë, one of Britain’s most famous female writers, was born on 30 July 1818 and we celebrate her bicentenary this year. Emily, like her siblings, is well-known to schoolchildren at home and abroad as a name on a family tree dogged by tragedy. She’s also, of course, feted for her only novel – the compelling romance Wuthering Heights (published in 1847 under the male pseudonym Ellis Bell) – which revolves around the genealogies of ill-matched neighbours the Earnshaw and the Linton families. No wonder Emily Brontë and family history are often mentioned in the same breath!

Immediate family

The branches of Emily’s immediate family tree are fairly well-known. She was the fifth of the six children of the Rev Patrick Brontë and his wife Maria (née Branwell). Maria died on 15 September 1821 when Emily was only three years old. The youngster lost her eldest sisters Maria (aged 11) in May 1825 and Elizabeth (aged 10) just six weeks later, on 15 June 1825. Brother Branwell died aged 31 on 24 September 1848 (probably from a combination of tuberculosis, alcohol and opioid abuse) and Emily herself – also suffering from tuberculosis – followed them to the grave just a couple of months later on 19 December 1848. She was 30 years old. Sister Anne passed away the following year on 28 May 1849 aged 29 and Charlotte died on 31 March 1855 shortly before her 39th birthday, soon after her marriage to curate Arthur Bell Nicholls (29 June 1854) and while in the early months of pregnancy. Emily’s father Patrick finally died six years later on 7 June 1861 at the grand old age of 84.

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About Family Tree

Join us as we celebrate the mothers, grandmothers, aunts and more on your family tree. It's vital to research the female ancestors, otherwise you're only learning half of your family history. This issue we have plenty to help and inspire your research into women's history and so gain a fuller understanding of your family members and their lives in times gone by.